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Doug Ramspeck

Featured Author Issue 12.1 Winter 2020

Doug Ramspeck grew up in the Midwest and attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he met his wife on Superbowl Sunday at the Columbus airport. After college, they spent a number of years in California then Texas then Virginia before returning to the Midwest, first to Indiana (where their daughter was born) and then to Illinois and finally back to Ohio, where they have lived for the past twenty-two years. Doug is a Professor of English at The Ohio State University at Lima.

He is the author of seven poetry collections, including Black Flowers (LSU Press, 2018), and one collection of short stories. Individual works of fiction have appeared in journals that include The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Southwest Review, and The Southern Review. His short story “Balloon” was listed as a Distinguished Story for 2018 in The Best American Short Stories. He is a three-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. His author website can be found at https://dougramspeck.com.

The Owl That Carries Us Away (BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2018) received this starred review from Library Journal.

That Ramspeck is a prize-winning poet shows in this accomplished collection, winner of the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction: the language is grittily lyrical and each story in the moment. In one piece, the narrator says, “I see that my sons are wild creatures, feral boys in the backyard,” and that beneath-the-surface sense of nasty brutishness surfaces throughout. A boy relentlessly pursued by a bullying older brother nearly drowns him, then wishes he had; “his brother will be lying in wait, will never forget this.” A young woman is delighted with her new husband yet finds his presence, his very body, intrusive. And in the particularly affecting opening story, a boy who treasures a possum skull, a great sense of comfort to him with his father ill and his life lonely, is devastated when it’s destroyed by a would-be friend. Memory matters, too; a man finds his wife’s clothes “dangling their remembrance around him,” while the father watching his sons is defined by the moment long ago when his brother drowned.

-VERDICT Excellent reading for those who value meditative, beautiful storytelling.